As the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament kicks off with the first round Thursday and second round Sunday, attention moves to the top MLS prospects in the college ranks. Stanford's Jordan Morris
, whom the Seattle Sounders have offered the most lucrative Homegrown contract in MLS history, is the big name, but other players are attracting
interest, notably a trio of Ghanaians who came to the United States via the Right to Dream program. Geoffrey Acheampong (UC Santa Barbara/Ghana).
the fourth year in a row, a Gaucho player was named the Big West Freshman of the Year, and the best of the bunch could be Acheampong, who attended the Cate School in Santa Barbara as part of the Right
to Dream program that places talented young Ghanaian student-athletes in programs abroad. The left-footed Acheampong had a goal or assist in 10 of 14 games after becoming a fixture in the UCSB
starting lineup in mid-September and is a big reason teammate Nick DePuy l
ed the nation with 15 goals. Second
No. 15 UC Santa Barbara vs. South Carolina-Furman Sunday. Brandon Allen (Georgetown).
Allen was the Soccer America Freshman of the Year
in 2012 and an NSCAA All-America in 2013 and 2014. He leads the Hoyas with 11 goals and seven assists in 2015. No other MLS club has dibs on more top college players than the New York Red Bulls, who
courted Allen after his sophomore season. Other Red Bull academy products to follow: Georgetown teammates Arun Basuljevic
and Alex Muyl
, freshman Derrick Etienne
of Virginia and junior Adam Najem
of Akron. Second Round:
No. 3 Georgetown vs. Hofstra-Lehigh winner Sunday. Abu Danladi (UCLA/Ghana).
Injuries have limited the
Ghanaian winger's playing time in both seasons in Westwood, but he is regarded as the best attacking prospect in the college ranks. He is part of a UCLA quartet of All-Pac-12 first-team players, all
freshmen or sophomores. Seyi Adekoya
, Jose Hernandez
(Pac-12 Freshman of the Year), Jackson Yueill
and Danladi combined for 36 goals and 20 assists. Danladi was the 2015 Gatorade National Boys High School Soccer Player of the Year after moving to Dunn School in Los
Olivos, California, on the Right to Dream program. First Round:
UCLA vs. Cal Poly Thursday. Jack
Harrison (Wake Forest/England).
The Englishman became the first player to earn both the ACC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards. He spearheads a Demon Deacon attack that is
second in the nation in scoring offense. Harrison hails from Bolton via the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, where he was the 2015 Gatorade National Boys High School Soccer Player of the Year.
No. 1 Wake Forest vs Charlotte-Radford winner. Fabian Herbers (Creighton/Germany).
two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year leads the nation in points (42) and is tied for second in goals (15) and assists (12). He's the best of a host of Germans who have entered the U.S
college ranks. Other German pro prospects: Creighton teammate Timo Pitter
, the Big East's top midfielder, and Louisville sophomore Tim Kubel. Second Round:
No. 12 Creighton vs. Kentucky-Drake winner Sunday. Omar Holness
Holness was one of the top players on Jamaica's 2011 Under-17 World Cup team, but a knee injury suffered shortly after the tournament in Mexico sidelined him for a
year. He was called up to the senior Reggae Boyz last fall and made their roster for the 2015 Gold Cup. The other top Jamaican prospect: speedy Rutgers sophomore Jason
. Second Round:
No. 5 North Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina-North Florida winner Sunday. Richie Laryea (Akron/Canada).
The Canadian will lead the Zips, who are one of the darkhorses in this year's NCAA Tournament. He tied with Najem for the team lead with nine goals and
added five assists. Only a sophomore, he played for the same soccer academy, Sigma FC, in Toronto that produced the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin
. Second Round:
No. 4 Akron vs. Rutgers-LIU winner Sunday. Jordan Morris (Stanford).
Now a junior,
Morris has been in and out of the Cardinal lineup as he split time with the U.S. national team and under-23 national team that is involved in Olympic qualifying. On Wednesday, Seattle Sounders general
manager Garth Lagerwey
said the club has offered the 21-year-old Morris, a native of Mercer Island, the most lucrative Homegrown Player deal in MLS history.
Morris’ father, Michael
, is the Sounders' medical director.
No. 8 Stanford vs. Cal
State Fullerton/Santa Clara winner on Sunday. Amar Sejdic (Maryland).
The freshman is considered the most highly
rated midfielder in the college ranks. He has scored three goals and added two assists for the Terrapins, who won the Big Ten title for the second year in a row since moving from the ACC. Born in
Germany to Bosnian parents, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when he was 4. Sejdic has spent time at Vitesse in the Netherlands and later moved to the RSL-AZ academy in Arizona, the 2015 Development
Academy runner-up, and could qualify as a Real Salt Lake Homegrown Player. Second Round:
No. 10 Maryland vs. Virginia-Rider winner Sunday.
Joshua Yaro (Georgetown/Ghana).
Yaro is generally considered the likely No. 1 pick in the 2016 SuperDraft -- if he comes out. He would have been one or two
of the top picks if he had come out after his sophomore but said he wanted to remain at Georgetown. Since the defender returned from a leg injury, the Hoyas have not lost a match. They enter the NCAA
Tournament with a 13-game unbeaten streak. Like Acheampong, Yaro also attended the Cate School in Santa Barbara as part of the Right to Dream program. Second Round:
No. 3 Georgetown vs. Hofstra-Lehigh winner Sunday.
So only 2 out of the top ten college prospects are born and raised Americans. Congrats to the foreigners but dire straits for the American youth system.
Most of these players won't be playing for the USMNT anyway.
The top 10 college prospects list seems to be a little biased. For Sejdic to be the most highly rated midfielder, that is wrong. Najem and Basuljevic (both American born by the way) are much better in many ways. How is Abu "regarded as the best attacking prospect in the college ranks?" Two years hampered by injury and he's still on this list? Is it because of Right to Dream? Doesn't seem right.....
Acheampong (2014), Harrison (2014) and Morris (2012) are former Golden Ball award winners given to the best field player at the US Youth Soccer National Championships, and Danladi was named to the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships Best 11 team. Danladi and Acheampong won the Under-18 US Youth Soccer National Championship with Santa Barbara SC (CA-S), Harrison won a National Championship with Manhattan PSG (NY-E) and Morris placed third in 2011 and 2012 with Eastside FC (WA).
No matter how good a chef is, cooking with quality ingredients is the key to a tasty meal. Changing the Shepherd will not change the sheep. If US players are not dominating at the college level, they sure will not dominate at the National level. It will all start with a generation of U-17s who dominate at the youth WC. And Dominate means reach the final 4. Just as happened in New Zealand some years ago with the Beasleys and the Donovan's, so will it be in the future with...start with the current 10-12year olds.
And the funny thing is, most of these Ghanaians will not be good enough to play for Ghana. Because by coming to the USA at this age, they have made a choice that puts them more on an academic path, than a sporting path.